A deal on the Irish border to break the Brexit deadlock is not close, the EU’s chief negotiator said on Tuesday. Michel Barnier was speaking as Theresa May briefed the Cabinet on her plans to achieve a breakthrough in time to secure a special Brexit summit to seal an agreement in November.
Irish premier Leo Varadkar has told Theresa May that he will not accept a Brexit deal which gives the UK the unilateral power to halt “backstop” arrangements for the border with Northern Ireland. In a phone conversation with the Taoiseach, Mrs. May said that any agreement would have to include a mechanism to bring an end to the backstop – designed to ensure there is no hard border in Ireland if the UK and EU fail to reach a broader trade deal.
Irish President Michael D Higgins has said he shares the concerns of the country’s premier Leo Varadkar that there is a risk of a return to violence if a hard border is imposed post-Brexit. Mr Higgins said: “I do share the Taoiseach’s concern.”
An extended Brexit transition period is not an alternative to the EU’s backstop proposal, Irish premier Leo Varadkar has warned. The Taoiseach said he is open to the idea of an extension but it fails to resolve the border issue.
Pope Francis has begged forgiveness for members of the Catholic Church's hierarchy who kept quiet about clerical child sex abuse. He was ending a two-day visit to the Republic of Ireland by celebrating a Mass at Dublin's Phoenix Park.
British Prime Minister Theresa May will meet top EU official Donald Tusk this Thursday, 24 hours before a major speech on British relations with the bloc after Brexit. Her talks with the European Council president come amid tensions over the EU's draft withdrawal treaty.